Taken on the night of November 8, 2003, this image is a composite of
three images showing the progression of the eclipse and the size of
the darkest portion of the Earth's shadow, the Umbra, in relation to
the size of the Moon. (Looking at the left and right lunar images, notice
the half-circle that is made by the Umbra. Use your imagination to complete
the circle, and that's how large the Umbra is!) You can also see how
close the Moon was to the outer edge of the Umbra; this almost wasn't
a total eclipse!
Richmond, VA was graced with a cloudless night for the eclipse, allowing
me to photograph the entire event from the comfort of my back yard.
Why is the center image red? Sunlight refracting through the Earth's
atmosphere at low angles is reddish in color due to fact that most of
the other colors are absorbed or refracted away by dust in the Earth's
atmosphere; this is why sunrises and sunsets are red. In a Total Lunar
Eclipse, the Sun is hidden behind the Earth, and the only light that
reaches the Moon is that which is refracted at low angles through the
Earth's atmosphere. Basically, the Moon is lit by sunrise and sunset
light all in a ring around the Earth.
All images were taken using a Nikon D1x digital camera and a Nikkor
400mm f/2.8 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter. The teleconverter gives
the lens a focal length of 560mm, and the smaller (than film-sized)
imaging sensor of the digital camera resulted in the field of view of
an 840mm lens. The lens and camera were mounted on a Losmandy G-11 German
Equatorial mount in a side-by-side configuration with a 90mm refractor
I used to enjoy the eclipse when not taking pictures.
The image on the right was taken at 7:16 PM and is a 1/200th sec. exposure
at ISO 125. The mid-eclipse image was taken at 8:15 PM and is a 2 second
exposure at ISO 400, and the image on the left was taken at 9:16 PM
and is a 1/200th sec. exposure at ISO 125. All images were taken at
f/5.6 (f/4 on the lens with a one-stop loss due to the teleconverter).